Human beings seem to have some intuition for knowing when things are right, a certain feeling of truth and resonance. It’s the same in fictional stories, when it all adds up and satisfies at the end, and conversely when you hear a story, you often know when something is missing. Sometimes, you don’t even know that you know, but will guess as some obvious marker, and rewarded later by learning the truth. These principles hold true in the stories of lives, equally, and the “ah moment” is equivalent in both.
I was thinking about the scientific principle Occam’s razor which, paraphrased somewhat incorrectly says, the simplest answer is usually the correct one, but it’s more accurately explained: “When multiple competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities.”
Thus, Occam’s razor doesn’t exactly speak to the stories of human’s life, which are not necessarily simple (or are they) and yet, when revealed accurately, make absolute sense to us (and perhaps this is only some sort of pattern recognition, but those patterns seem to be repeated and repeated so that a story like The Iliad, and the conflicts within, ring perfectly true to us today, thousands of years later.)
All this is to say, that late last night a friend called to tell me the truth about something he’d been keeping from me. And not knowing wasn’t bothering me (because I wasn’t thinking I didn’t know something), but knowing still comes as a huge relief, like a coming up for air breath, like an ahhhh at the end of a compelling story.
This gets me thinking about mysteries, and how much we really like them. A woman isn’t supposed to lose too much of her mystery, and granted they do keep us on the edge of our seats, but I wonder how much better (or worse) it is just to know.